Praying at night with the boys has come full circle this week.
When Brogan was really little praying every night more often than not involved a guitar and a nightlight. We’d sing goofy camp songs (“I’m in love with a big blue frog”) and then move toward quieter songs (“Christopher Robin” and “Jenny the Flying Girl”). After our spoken prayer (we’d alternate between Now I lay me, The Lord’s Prayer and The 23rd Psalm) we’d always end by singing Taps. Sometimes saying prayers took 20 minutes or so.
Sam joined us when Brogan was 3. Sam got more words than songs. For some reason “Jenny the Flying Girl” made Brogan cry, so Sam seemed to request that one the most ….(reminded me of my growing up).
Prayers shifted about the time Bro was 5 and Sam 2. They were beginning to have lives of their own and I was nosey. (There I said it). It was one of those times when the growing up of children is fine for the kids and hard on the grown-ups. So when the teeth were brushed and all other bathroom duties complete, we added saying our “best thing and hardest thing” of the day to the songs and prayers and Taps.
This as much as anything else became my window into their lives. At the end of the day each of us chose one thing that was our best thing and next vented (just a bit) about our hardest thing. One night must have been particularly tender, because we needed something after the hardest thing ~ so the Hopeful Thing was added. This became an important part of our nightly ritual.
When we completed the addition of our house, the boys moved upstairs and began sleeping in their own rooms. Brogan said he was big enough to say prayers by himself (and I know he was, but still…). So for several years at about 9 or 9:30, Sam would be tucked in and I’d be lying down next to him. We’d talk about his day, share Best/Hardest/Hopeful things, have a song and/or prayer and I’d give him a kiss.
This week Sam, too said he is now big enough to say his prayers on his own (and I know he is, but still…).
And so we’ve come full circle.
Best thing. Hardest thing. Hopeful thing. This has proven to be a helpful ending of the day practice for me and I think for the boys as well. This practice has let us name the celebrations/joys, acknowledge the challenges and it brought us back-round again to what can get us out of bed the next morning.
When folks ask me if I like parenting it’s so easy for me to say how counter-intuitive almost all of it is; how demanding-of-constancy it is; how emotionally, physically, spiritually and financially draining it is and how darn tired I am most days. But the honest truth of what I like about parenting is this: it’s the moments of parenting these two amazing boys. The moments that shift me, remind me, inspire and stretch me. They are the best, the hardest and the most hopeful things. I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything else.
Working in Family Experience at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Lesley is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. A Candler School of Theology graduate, Lesley has just published her second book, Grief and the Psalms: Companioning the Moon for 29 Days (available on this website). She and her partner, Linda Ellis are raising their two sons, Brogan and Sam in Decatur, GA.